Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reflections From Fidel Castro on Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel

Havana. February 5, 2009

Reflections of Fidel

Contradictions between the politics of Obama and ethics

THE other day I noted some of Obama’s ideas that point to his role within a system that is the negation of every just principle.

There are people who throw up their hands in horror at the expression of any critical opinion of this important figure, even when it is done decently and respectfully. This is always accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those who possess the means to circulate and transform such opinions into components of media terrorism, which they impose on the peoples in order to sustain the unsustainable.

Without exception, any criticism of mine is qualified as an attack, a charge or other similar nouns that reflect a lack of consideration and courtesy toward the person to whom they are directed.

On this occasion, it is necessary to ask certain questions to which the new president of the United States should respond, among the many that could be formulated.

For example, the following:

Will he renounce or not his prerogative as president of the United States — and as exercised by many in the same office with very few exceptions as a per se right — of the power to order the assassination of foreign political adversaries, who always tend to be from underdeveloped countries?

Maybe one of his various collaborators has informed him at some point of the sinister actions against Cuba undertaken by presidents, from Eisenhower and those who followed him, in the years 1960, ‘61, ‘62, ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, ‘66 and ‘67, including the mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion, campaigns of terror, the smuggling of vast quantities of weapons and explosives into our territory and other similar actions?

I do not wish to cast any blame on Barack Obama, the current president of the United States, for acts that his presidential predecessors carried out before he was born or when he was just a child of six, born in Hawaii to a Muslim, black Kenyan father and a white American Christian mother. On the contrary, in the society of the United States, that constitutes an exceptional merit, which I am one of the first to recognize.

Does President Obama know that for entire decades, our country was victim to the introduction of viruses and bacteria carrying diseases and plagues that affected humans, animals and plants, some of which — like hemorrhagic dengue fever — subsequently led to epidemics that cost the lives of thousands of children in Latin America, and plagues that affected the economy of the nations of the Caribbean and the rest of the continent, as collateral damage that it has not been possible to eliminate?

Was he aware that a number of politically subordinated Latin American countries — today ashamed of the damage that they caused — participated in these acts of terrorism?

Why has a disruptive Cuban Adjustment Act been imposed on our people, the only such case in the world, engendering the trafficking of humans and acts that have cost people’s lives, fundamentally women and children?

Was it just to implement an economic blockade against our people that has lasted for close to 50 years?

Was it correct to arbitrarily demand of the world the extraterritorial extension of that blockade, which can only generate hunger and scarcity for any nation?

The United States cannot satisfy its vital needs without the extraction of vast mineral resources from a large number of countries which, in many cases, are restricted to exporting these without intermediary refining processes, an activity that, in general, if it suits the empire’s interests, is marketed by the large transnational corporations of yanqui capital.

Will that country renounce such privileges?

Is such a measure compatible with the developed capitalist system?

When Mr. Obama promises to invest considerable sums in order to become self-sufficient in oil, in spite of his county currently constituting the largest market in the world, what will happen to those nations whose basic income is derived from exporting that energy, many of them without any other significant source of income?

When, as after any crisis, the competing and battling for markets and sources of employment are once again unleashed among those who best and most efficiently monopolize technologies with sophisticated means of production, what possibilities are left to the underdeveloped countries that dream of industrialization?

However efficient the new vehicles that the automobile industry attains might be, will those procedures perhaps be what ecology requires for protecting humanity from the growing deterioration of the climate?

Can the blind philosophy of the market replace what only rationality can promote?

Obama is promising to print vast quantities of money in search of technologies that will multiply the production of energy, without which modern societies would be paralyzed.

The energy sources that he has promised to rapidly develop include nuclear plants, which already have a high number of opponents, given the large risk of accidents with disastrous effects on life, the atmosphere and human alimentation. It is absolutely impossible to guarantee that such accidents will not take place.

Without any need for such disastrous accidents, modern industry has contaminated all the seas of the planet with their toxic emissions.

Is it correct to promise the conciliation of such contradictory and antagonistic interests without transgressing ethics?

In order to please the trade unions that supported their campaign, the U.S. House of Representatives, dominated by Democrats, has launched the extremely protectionist slogan "Buy U.S. products," which casts aside a basic principle of the World Trade Organization, given that all the nations of the world, large or small, base their dreams of development on the exchange of goods and services for which, however, only the largest and those rich in natural resources have the privilege of surviving.

Republicans in the United States, hit hard by the discredit brought upon them by the blunders of the Bush government, have been neither slow nor tardy in forestalling Obama’s indulgencies to his trade union allies. Hence, the credit that voters granted the new president of the United States is being squandered.

As an old politician and fighter, I am committing no sin by modestly expounding these ideas.

Questions without easy answers could be formulated every day in line with the publication of hundreds of news items from the political, scientific and technological spheres that are reaching every country in the world.

Fidel Castro Ruz
February 4, 2009
5:14 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

February 9, 2009

Reflections of Fidel

Rahm Emanuel

WHAT a strange surname! It appears Spanish, easy to pronounce, but it’s not. Never in my life have I heard or read about any student or compatriot with that name, among tens of thousands.

Where does it come from? I wondered. Over and over, the name came to mind of the brilliant German thinker, Immanuel Kant, who together with Aristotle and Plato, formed a trio of philosophers that have most influenced human thinking. Doubtless he was not very far, as I discovered later, from the philosophy of the man closest to the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Another recent possibility led me to reflect on the strange surname, the book of Germán Sánchez, the Cuban ambassador in Bolivarian Venezuela: The transparence of Enmanuel, this time without the “I” with which the German philosopher’s name begins.

Enmanuel is the name of the child conceived and born in the dense guerrilla jungle, where his extremely honorable mother, Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas González, was taken prisoner on February 23, 2002, together with Ingrid Betancourt, who was a presidential candidate in that sister country’s elections that year.

I read with much interest the abovementioned book by Germán Sánchez, our ambassador in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela who, in 2008, had the privilege of participating in the liberation of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González, former National Assembly deputy, from the FARC, the revolutionary army of Colombia, which had taken them prisoner.

Clara had remained in the hands of the guerrilla forces out of solidarity with Ingrid and was with her throughout six years of difficult captivity.

Germán’s book is titled The Transparency of Enmanuel, almost exactly the same name as the German philosopher. It didn’t seem strange to me; in thinking about how his mother was a brilliant and very cultured lawyer; maybe that was the reason she gave her child that name. It simply led me to remember the years of isolation in prison that I experienced after my almost-successful attempt to take over Cuba’s second-largest military fortress on July 26, 1953 and to seize thousands of weapons with a select group of 120 combatants willing to fight against the Batista dictatorship imposed on Cuba by the United States.

Of course, it was not the only objective or the only inspiring idea, but what is certain is that after the triumph of the revolution in our homeland on January 1, 1959, I still recalled some of the German philosopher’s aphorisms:

“A wise man can change his mind. A stubborn one, never.”

“Do not use others as a means to your end.”

“Only through education can a man finally be a man.”

This great idea was one of the principles proclaimed from the initial days following the revolutionary triumph, on January 1, 1959. Obama and his advisor had not been born or even conceived. Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago on November 29, 1959, the son of a Russian immigrant. His mother was a human rights advocate named Martha Smulevitz; she was sent to prison three times for her activities.

Rahm Emanuel joined the Israeli army in 1991 as a civilian volunteer during the first Gulf War waged by Bush Sr., which used missiles containing uranium that caused serious illnesses in the U.S. soldiers who participated in the offensive against the Iraqi Republican Guard in retreat, and in a countless number of civilians.

Since that war, the peoples of the Near and Middle East have consumed a fabulous amount of weapons, which the U.S. military-industrial complex launches onto the market.

The racists of the extreme right might be able to satisfy their thirst for ethnic superiority and assassinate Obama like they did Martin Luther King, the great human rights leader which, while theoretically possible, does not appear probable at this time, given the protection surrounding the president after his election, every minute, day and night.

Obama, Emanuel and all of the brilliant politicians and economists who have come together would not suffice to solve the growing problems of U.S. capitalist society.

Even if Kant, Plato and Aristotle were to resuscitate together the late and brilliant economist John Kenneth Galbraight, neither would they be capable of solving the increasingly more frequent and profound antagonistic contradictions of the system. They would have been happy in the times of Abraham Lincoln —so admired, and rightfully so, by the new president — an era left far behind.

All of the other peoples will have to pay for the colossal waste and guarantee, above anything else on this increasingly more contaminated planet, U.S. jobs and the profits of that country’s large transnationals.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Febrero 8, 2009
5:16 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

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